Employer benefits pricier for low-income workers, analysis finds

Families with lower incomes spend more on employer-sponsored health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical bills than those with higher incomes, according to a healthcare tracker released in partnership with the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Health System Tracker examined data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. The survey, which includes more than 101 million nonelderly Americans with employer-based health insurance, analyzes the average amounts and the shares of family income people pay out of pocket for premiums and medical expenses.

According to the analysis, Americans with employer-based coverage who have incomes below twice the poverty level see payments for health insurance premiums and medical bills average about 14 percent of family income. That's compared to 8 percent of income for families with incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the poverty level, and 5 percent for people with incomes of at least 400 percent of the poverty level.

"While the ACA helped to improve healthcare affordability for many low-income people without access to employer coverage, it did little to provide relief to the much larger group of people offered health benefits at work. That may be part of what is fueling interest in proposals like Medicare-for-all and options for employers and/or workers to buy into Medicare," according to the analysis.

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